Hungary: toll increases to be introduced sooner than expected
The Association of Hungarian Road Hauliers (MKFE) has informed about an immediate amendment to the toll regulation, which was unexpectedly published in the Hungarian Official Journal on the night of September 19. As a result, the toll increase, previously planned to take place on January 1, 2023, will be brought forward.
MKFE emphasizes that the decree on toll increases was ameded without notifying representatives of the transport associations. On the basis of a preliminary but unofficial calculation, the toll increase corresponds to the rate of inflation in August, specified in the previous decree, but the increase will take effect in less than a month and not from the start of 2023.
What the transport sector finds disconcerting is the fact that the government’s decision will cause freight rates to go up, which will threaten the liquidity and profitability of transport companies.
In the case of contracts usually awarded in annual tenders, haulier costs are calculated by taking into all fees set out in applicable regulations; based on these calculations contracting parties determine freight rates which apply for the duration of a given contract. In the case of tolls, the calculation is based on the inflation adjustment introduced in 2020, which was used to calculate toll rates that are in effect in 2022. This regulatory framework has been replaced by the unexpected amendment, which will drive up hauliers‘ costs since October 1. These additional costs will have to be immediately included in their freight rates. That leaves much less time for companies to get ready than is usually the case. Independent experts estimate that a 15.6% toll increase will entail an immediate increase in freight rates by 3-4%.
The unexpected change in the conditions set out in the regulation is likely to undermine trust between customers and hauliers, which will be particularly detrimental to Hungarian hauliers that are struggling to compete in the international market. The unexpected toll increases are particularly damaging to micro, small and medium-sized hauliers, which often have no choice but to charge freight rates that are just above or even below their costs. Toll increases are bound to disrupt budgets planned for the current year and cause financial difficulties even in companies with much capital.
With transport costs constantly on the rise and driver shortages plaguing the transport sector, it is increasingly difficult to maintain the stability of supply chains. For this reason, representatives of the Hungarian transport industry are asking the government to support the sector by all possible means, e.g. by immediately introducing a system for reducing tolls for large hauliers, and by giving all domestic enterprises and sole proprietors the opportunity to pay tolls at a later date.